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BCIT Survey Highlights Importance of
Oral Communication Skills

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David Hamilton, an instructor in the Communication Department at BCIT, undertook a survey of both recent graduates of BCIT and companies who had considered BCIT graduates for employment.  The survey, which was conducted in the spring and early summer of 2005, polled 460 companies and more than a 1000 former BCIT students who had graduated between the years 2000 and 2004.  The results show the importance of English language skills for success in getting a job.

In an interim report on the survey results, David Hamilton wrote the following:

  • "Over 90% of the employers said communication skills are at least as important as technical skills for newly hired employees in entry-level jobs. Only 13% said they were less important."
  • "Over 96% of the employers said that communication skills are at least as important as technical skills for first-level managers."
  • "Speaking and listening/understanding were rated slightly higher in importance than reading and writing."
  • "Almost 50% of the employers said that they had turned down job applicants because of English communication problems. The main reason was an inability to speak clearly and to understand spoken English and to a lesser extent because of English errors on resumes."

Mr. Hamilton's report also included comments from the American National Association of Colleges and Employers and the Business Council of BC: "In the USA, the National Association of Colleges and Employers says in its Job Outlook 2005:  '… year after year, the number one skill employers look for is good communication skills: the ability to write and speak clearly.' ”

"In BC, the latest Biennial Skills and Attributes Survey of the Business Council of British Columbia, published in October 2004, emphasizes employers’ need for new hires with strong communication skills. In the list of the top-ten key skills that employers look for in all new hires, communication skills rank very highly, being chosen by about 90% of the employers. In this survey, writing was chosen by 93% of the respondents (giving it a ranking of 5 out of the top 10 skills), reading by 89% (ranked 7) and speaking/ listening by 89% (ranked 8)."

In the BC Business Council survey, interpersonal skills, which of course are built on a solid foundation of good oral communication ability, were rated the number one attribute that BC companies are looking for in hiring new workers.

  © John Keith 2005

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